The Reset Manifesto
CopyrightÂ© 2016 by Lazlo Zalezac
Patricia was wondering what kind of funeral this was becoming. People listening to the service were not supposed to interrupt it and make cryptic comments about the deceased. This could only happen to her brother Peter!
Charles stood up and faced the rest of the people there. In a shrill voice, he expressed his anger, “Would people quit interrupting the service? Please!”
Rebecca said, “Sit down, Charles. I want to hear what people have to say about Peter.”
Patricia looked over at Rebecca, incredulous that she would say such a thing. “This is not how a funeral is supposed to be.”
“It’s Peter’s funeral and he would enjoy this if he were here. Now be quiet and let other people talk.”
“Shut up. You might be his sister and Charles might be his brother, but neither of you ever understood him. Peter was a simple person, but in a complicated way. You always treated him like he was a complicated person in a simple way.”
Charles said, “He wasted his life as a businessman. He should have been a scientist and done something to help humanity!”
He turned to stare at the people who were laughing so hard it was amazing they stayed in their chairs. He hadn’t said anything funny.
In what had to be the greatest shock of modern times to the political machines in America, 63 of the independent electors were elected. None of them had declared for a party candidate for President. There were 538 votes in the Electoral College and conventional wisdom is that a candidate needs to receive 270 votes to be elected. Of course, that assumes two candidates. In this particular election, neither party candidate reached 270 confirmed electoral votes and there were 63 electoral votes which were not committed to either candidate. Not only that, there were two Independent candidates and one of them had been endorsed by the majority of the citizen action committees who had promoted the electoral candidates.
Thus it came to pass that on the day after the election the future President of the United States of America was unknown and wouldn’t be known until the official day of the electoral vote. The reaction to this situation was mixed. Some people wanted the electors to immediately and publicly announce who they were voting for. Others were having too much fun watching the two party candidates squirm. The Press, used to providing instant answers, ramped up the speculation as a form of non-informative answers.
Squirming wasn’t the word one could use to describe the reaction of the moneyed supporters of the candidates. A more accurate word was fury. They had invested huge amounts of money to influence the outcome only to have uncertainty. They wanted an answer now for their investment. It suddenly looked like they were going to have to spend more to get their candidate elected. People came out of the woodwork trying to buy votes. If they couldn’t buy it, they were willing to blackmail people for it.
Understanding exactly how the political mind operated, Peter immediately placed protections around the uncommitted electors. He placed honeypots in front of the operating system backdoors on the computers owned or operated by the electors. He put monitors around questionable sites which would trigger when a known political fixer accessed the site. Worried about their physical security, he hired people to provide an over-watch on the residences of the electors. Peter also installed monitoring systems on the computers of known hatchet men and political moneymen. He keyed in commands at the cell towers to track calls made by specific people. In essence, he surveilled anyone and everyone who would want to influence the outcome of the election, particularly those who had the means to act.
Taylor Capone, no relation to the infamous Al Capone, was a well known black hat operative. He was also a political fixer for the Democratic Party. He was asked to plant evidence that could be used to persuade certain individuals to vote for a specific candidate. Peter was fortunate enough to catch the initial contact from the person making the request to the middleman who hired Taylor to plant evidence.
One of the problems with trying to frame someone with child pornography is that you must collect the images before you can plant them on your target. Peter’s spiders collected information of all kinds, including information about places where images of a specific nature were stored. He didn’t have to download the images to know what was there. People conveyed what they knew to other people who were interested in the same topics. Peter, who had programs that tapped into that flow of information, knew all of the major caches of child pornography.
Believing that he was accessing the computer of an elector, a well respected man by the name of Timothy Barnes, through the operating system backdoor that the government insisted that a widely used operating system provide, Taylor proceeded to download child pornography onto the machine. He was not an unsophisticated hacker. He had some of the finest tools for framing someone at his disposal. He knew that a single sudden download after the election would look suspicious. He chose a more subtle and credible frame. He downloaded a few files at a time and modified the file creation date to a random date and time well before the election. A simple forensic analysis of the computer hard drive would show that the user had downloaded files over a period of a year.
What Taylor Capone did not know was that he had logged into a honeypot. The downloads were not landing on the computer owned by Timothy Barnes, but were being saved on the machine at his home and the business computer of the man who had ordered the frame. When Taylor disconnected from the honeypot, a telephone call was made to local law enforcement on behalf of a major internet provider who reported that they had a list of customers who had visited a suspected child pornography website. After a quick check of the contents being served up at website based on the provided IP address, police around the country were lined up in front of judges to get search warrants.
Upon his arrival at home, Taylor was greeted by police holding search warrants. He literally wet his pants when he saw that the screen saver on his computer was showing a picture that would get him sent to prison. The expressions on the faces of the policemen from that horrible moment would forever live in his memory. Having framed others, he knew exactly what was going to happen to him and it wasn’t going to be pleasant.
The man who originally ordered the frame was rich and powerful enough to avoid any official action on the images found on his computer. His general mood was not improved upon discovering that he had been targeted in that fashion. He was shocked when he received a text message, ‘That was your one free pass. LoneAvenger.’
Skip Jones, a manager of a well known mutual fund, stepped out of the office building where he worked. He was in a very good mood despite having picked up a cyberstalker. He had just been informed that he was going to be receiving a very large bonus that year. The mutual fund that he managed had performed at 7% and had netted the company a nice 10%. It had been a very good year for him and the company, but not so much for the people whose money he was managing.
Skip was a married man, but wasn’t all that committed to his marriage. Rather than share the good news with his wife, he was off to visit his mistress to celebrate the good news. She was extremely good looking, but rather expensive to maintain. Still, she made him feel like a success.
He never made that meeting. A bullet to his head, fired by an unknown sniper, ended his life right there on the street. People screamed in reaction to the splatter. Most of them disappeared before the police arrived to investigate. No one claimed to have seen anything or anyone who could have fired the fatal round.
Mary Barber opened the door of her apartment and looked at the couple standing on her porch. She firmly stated, “I’m not buying anything.”
“I’m having a baby,” the female half of the couple replied.
Mary looked at the woman wondering how one was supposed to respond to that kind of statement. It wasn’t exactly a common greeting.
“We want to hire you,” the male half of the couple said.
“We want to hire you.”
Mary looked at the woman. It was hard to tell that she was pregnant. She didn’t normally get approached for a job until the baby was due. It was expected that the opportunities would come through the service, not show up on her front porch.
“I work for a service.”
“We want you, not the person the service recommended,” the woman said bluntly.
“Who are you?”
“I’m Peter Moore and this is my wife, Rebecca Moore.”
“You’ll have to go through the service.”
After glancing over at Rebecca, Peter said, “We want you.”
“You’re graduating this semester as a nurse practitioner. That makes you unique among all of the individuals who are currently working as a post-natal nanny,” Peter said.
“I am planning on going into a regular medical practice upon graduation.”
Peter said, “I know. That’s why we think we can convince you to work for us.”
Rebecca said, “We are hoping to convince you to postpone joining Dr. Mcknight’s practice.”
“How did you know about that?”
“Peter knows all kinds of things.” The pride in Rebecca’s voice was hard to miss.
“You currently owe sixty-eight thousand on your school loan. We’ll pay it off if you’ll stay with George for a year.”
The look Mary gave him should have killed him. She didn’t like that he knew exactly how much she owed on her school loan. Of course, she figured that even a simple background check would turn up something like that and new parents were often overly protective of their children. Still it irritated her to have it brought up like that.
“Who is George?”
“You’ve already got a baby?”
“No. I’m expecting a baby.”
“He’ll be our first.”
“We’ve already named him.”
“His name is George.”
The two of them stood there looking at her expectantly. She looked back wondering if they were going to add anything to what they had said. She waited, but they didn’t add anymore to what they had said. She felt like this couple had arrived recently from the moon or some other celestial body. They sure weren’t from Earth.
“Normally I work for single mothers who have a job and must get a full night’s sleep. You’re not single. Why do you need me?”
“We don’t know how to be parents,” Peter said.
“We can read books, but with a living human being ... book knowledge just isn’t good enough.”
“We don’t know how to hold a baby.”
“Or feed it.”
“Or change it.”
“Or do anything parental.”
“We’re not that kind of people.”
“Not at all.”
Mary stood there staring at them. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”
“I’m always serious.”
The funeral for Skip Jones was well attended by other fund managers. It was obviously a senseless murder. It was commonly assumed by the attendees that his death was an accident. The current theory was that he was struck by a bullet from a drive-by shooting some distance away. Those kinds of things happened. There was just no reason for anyone to kill him.
No one wanted to mention that his fund had been a good source of profit for the company at the expense of its customers. Investors knew they were taking a risk, but getting murdered over losses was ridiculous. The majority of investors were allocating a portion of their salary to the fund with matching contributions from their companies. They never saw the money except as a figure on a pay stub. Very few of them would even miss the money. Maybe the performance wasn’t quite so good, but they’d never miss it.
A number of his coworkers headed towards their cars after the main service intending to return to work rather than attend the graveside service. The time of day argued against heading straight to work. It was lunch time. They paused at the edge of the parking lot to discuss the possibility of stopping at a nearby restaurant for a quick bite to eat. There were a half dozen of them and they were all used to working together.
“There’s a seafood place up the street from here,” Carl Lambert said taking a leadership position in the lunch discussion. He was a great organizer of these kinds of activities.
Before anyone had a chance to answer him, he fell over with right half of his head missing. The others quickly dropped to the ground and attempted to hide. The theory that Skip Jones’ death had been an accident was quickly dropped in favor of other, more sinister, theories.
Peter read the result from his analysis program with a look of surprise on his face. Someone was killing investment managers of funds that had been robbed for profit. He had not expected a vigilante to show up this early in the campaign. It was the first sign that things were about to reach a crisis point.
So far the public had slowly increased its awareness of the corruption around them. Learning that the corruption was aimed at making the public poor that awareness had metamorphosed into anger. That anger had provoked quiet action in the form of local minor protests that were essentially peaceful. The lack of any progress had added fuel to the anger, raising the reaction from simple protest to larger riots that included a bit more physical impact. The riots still tended to be peaceful — there weren’t riots involving widespread destruction of property or personal injury, just minor damage.
The emergence of vigilante justice was a serious game changer. It transformed the action from ‘how do we make our dissatisfaction known’ to ‘how can we eliminate the source of our dissatisfaction.’ The law was not helping since it was being modified to make the victims the criminals.
Peter studied the results of some of the other queries he used to track events. One area of disappointment was the lack of reaction on the part of Congress to the criminal misconduct of the Federal Reserve Bank. Nobody had reset the national debt clock to the real value that took into account the money owed the Federal Government by the Federal Reserve Bank and the international central banks. It had been handing out money to nearly every large bank in the world as a present from the US Government. No one had been paying any of those loans back, but the debt was being chalked up to the government.
Concerned, he started to compose an email to Dave Morton, the economist he had working for him, wanting to understand the lack of reaction by the government to the criminal actions of the Fed. He had assumed that Congress would love to report that the national debt wasn’t quite as bad as everyone said it was. After all, the national debt was one of the most important problems the country was facing.
However, an odd thought struck him, Was the national debt a problem? The answer to that particular question was a matter of perspective. He could imagine that there were a lot of people who would consider having one of the largest economies in debt could be a real advantage for them. They could control the actions of the government by leveraging the debt and the difficulty of paying it off. That made the people who held the debt power brokers of exceptional strength. The only ones who actually cared about the debt were the taxpayers who were ultimately responsible for paying it off.
He thought more about what he was doing and killed the email before saving it to his thumb drive for sending at a later time. There was only one explanation for the lack of reaction by Congress. Someone was preventing Congress from raising the issue. Was it death threats, black mail, direct profit, or some combination of the three? He needed to find out and Dave Morton wasn’t the individual who would have that answer.
He shutdown his analysis program and exited his SCIF. He was going to have to reach out to one of the elite. He knew which one of them would be able to answer his question. It was now just a matter of being able to get in contact with him and that wasn’t easy. All of the elite hackers had been keeping a low profile knowing that every cyber enforcement group in the world was hunting them. In order to catch them in real life, they had to catch them in cyberspace first. There was a whole new form of spycraft, cyber spycraft. The elite hackers had invented cyber spycraft.
He went to the computer that was connected to an encrypted cellular network. With a few keystrokes he was in Second Life. He wandered around for a bit and then jumped into a hidden medieval armor museum. He went to one of the suits of armor and adjusted the arms on it. He went over to another and arranged the arms on it to the exact same position as the first. He then went over to a tapestry and made a minor modification to the design. Then he left to visit another room in Second Life. He wandered around doing little things before logging out.
Peter’s time in Second Life had been spent setting up a meeting. He had identified who was invited to meet by which suits of armor had been modified. He had indicated the time to meet by the positions of the arms. He had identified the location to meet by the modification to the tapestry. It was a very simple means of arranging meetings.
Mike Wagner was one of the investment bankers for a large corporation which managed a large number of mutual funds that were part of tax deferred retirement accounts. His job was to invest corporate assets. He had earned the corporation a huge amount of money that year.
Investment was normally a risky business. However, one could cheat the system by selling at a high to the mutual funds and then buying at a low from them at a later time. He would then unload the stock on the market at a higher price than the low at which he had bought it. This usually meant that he made a profit off the same block of stock twice. Such profits meant bonuses, very large bonuses. Not bad for him, but the suckers who were saving for their retirement lost their investments and the small time idiots who thought they could game the system lost money.
He was supposed to meet his fiancée at a restaurant, but never showed up. Furious at having been stood up without even a simple text message, his fiancée stopped by his apartment the next day to give him a piece of her mind. Upon opening the door to his place, she found his body on the floor amidst a huge pool of blood. Someone had shot him in the chest. Her hysterical screams eventually caused one of the neighbors to call the police.
Political powers were pulling their hair out over the lack of resolution concerning the Presidential election. They were very unhappy about having to wait until the first Monday after the second Wednesday of December to learn which candidate had won. With the swearing in ceremony scheduled for January 20 there would barely be enough to time to set up all of the events and parties that went along with the inauguration of a new president. There were guest lists to draw up. One couldn’t ignore the rich and powerful even if it was by accident or just because everything was rushed.
The President-elect had meetings to attend with important people before the ceremony. The real work of the leader of the country was to assure his reelection. One couldn’t put that off for too long. After all, one had to know whose business and money needs were most pressing. It would be a tragedy to start the presidency off by addressing the wrong issues.
Last but not least, the current President had to deal with the whole bit of handing off the government to the President-elect. Let’s not forget during this time the President-elect was expected to name his cabinet members. It was supposed to be a very busy time with lots of press interviews with the possible choices. This time there wasn’t any of that. There was nothing either candidate could do until the successor was identified.
There was a move made in Congress to change the date when the swearing in ceremony was to take place. It was actually a reasonable strategy for dealing with the chaos. However, the 20th Amendment of the Constitution specified that the term of President and Vice President ended at noon on January 20th. It didn’t specify what date the President Elect had to be sworn into office, but not doing so would have left the country without a President for a time so it has been practice to have the swearing in ceremony at noon on January 20th.
The two presidential candidates thought it was about time to visit the electors to discover if they could influence the votes of the electors in their favor. Meetings were arranged. The discussions were narrow, focused on a single issue of the elector’s interest. What is your stance on corporate reform? Of course, the answers given reflected whatever stance the elector happened to represent. Those questions were followed up with concrete examples from the past where the actions of the candidates proved just the opposite. It was hard to argue that one hadn’t supported increased corporate political power when your voting history contradicted every word out of your mouth. The politicians discovered that these electors were not ill-informed voting masses who could be mislead by a supporting press campaign!
Peter’s avatar hacked at the werebeast with a sword while the other member of his adventuring party cast a spell to slow it down. It was a typical fight in the online game and completely unremarkable. Of course, knowing that other player was Bora Polat changed the interpretation of the conversation that accompanied the fight with the werebeast.
Peter asked, “Why aren’t they mounting a mission to take them out?”
“The Kings of Money have threatened death.”
“The Kings of Money?”
“My nickname for the handful of families that have been running things for two centuries.”
“Ah. I thought we had undermined them.”
“Not enough. They have deep pockets.”
“The mighty must fall.”
“The mighty must die.”
“I try to avoid that kind of thing.”
“Allow my family to take care of it.”
“As you wish.”
Peter’s blade finally killed the werebeast. The two avatars stood back looking over the result of their work. They collected the small treasure possessed by the beast.
“Until next time.”
The two avatars disappeared as the players left the game.
Kelly Rose was not a wealthy woman. Some might say that she was poor, but that wouldn’t be accurate. She had started life out living in a tenement building, but she had worked her way up into a nice apartment in an upper lower class neighborhood. It was safe enough that she didn’t worry that much about being raped in her own place, but it wasn’t so safe that she’d leave the door unlocked.